Weight loss drug invented for dogs

February 1, 2008 7:34:56 AM PST
There's a new entry in the diet drug market. But, it's not for you it's for your dog. It's called Slentrol and some dog owners believe it's a life-saver. But, some vets are skeptical.

Carrying around extra weight is rough on a dog's organs and joints -- so losing weight can be a life saver. The drug blocks some of the fat from being absorbed and convinces the dog he's full. The drug is so new there are some vets who are worried about the long term effects of this quick fix.

Grizwald has been getting a lot of compliments lately on his shapely new figure.

"At least three to four employees have said 'oh my gosh, is that Grizwald?' He is so skinny, he actually has a curve,'" said Carrie Gadek, Grizwald's owner.

Grizwald's uncontrollable urge to sneak into the cat food at night helped him balloon out to a portly 120 pounds - 40 pounds overweight. But he's dropped 14 pounds - not because of some new fad dog food diet - but because he's on a new weight loss drug called Slentrol. And since his owner works as the hospital manager at the animal clinic in El Sobrante - he's serving as a good spokesmodel for the medicine.

Watching Grizwald's progress definitely tempted Rachel Williams to try it. Her dogs - Daisy and Adeline are also overweight. But she was also skeptical.

"Actually my mom laughed at me when I told her they were going on a diet. She said 'ohh just a feed diet' and I said 'no there's actually diet medicine now' and she thought it was the funniest thing in the world," said Rachel Williams, dog owner.

One of the vets at the clinic also has some concerns.

"I'm not inclined to use medication for things that I think you can probably do through diet and exercise. So for me -- it's not my first choice," said Michael Evans, DVM, animal care clinic.

But another vet at the hospital is more realistic. Karen Sullivan says about 50 percent of her canine patients are overweight and they show no signs of dropping the pounds anytime soon.

"I think a lot of owners bond with their animals by giving them food and they are reluctant to withhold food especially if their dog is begging," said Karen Sullivan, DVM, animal care clinic.

But Grizwald has already discovered one of the drugs problems -- what happens when dogs stop taking it.

"We tried to take him off and within three days he was going crazy, he was ravenous, he was going through garbage cans," said Rachel Williams.

And that's one concern both doctors have - how will owners help their dogs keep the weight off when they're done with the medicine? Grizwald is now trying to slowly taper off with his dosage. But Rachel Williams is so pleased with the results she's going to put her third dog on the drug.

As for the hospital staff - they're getting a good laugh at the human's response to the drug.

"Number one question -- what happens if I take it? Don't you think they would have done that by now," said Carrie Gadek.

It will not work on people -- it makes people very sick. It also isn't intended for cats -- just dogs. The drug is intended for temporary use - to be used along with long term good habits of eating less and exercising.